Fertility and concerns of infertility are words on the tips of everyone’s lips of late, and yet starting the fertility conversation seems to be more difficult than ever.
This post is sponsored by CCRM. All opinions are wholy my own.
I joined a fabulous group of women at a brunch hosted by CCRM, a leading fertility center in the U.S., to discuss how to lift the fertility stigma. If 40% of adults in a recent survey believe that infertility isn’t widely discussed, who better to start the conversation than a group of ladies who love to talk?
Throughout my journey addressing my fertility, going through infertility treatment, and, happily, getting pregnant with my little Emmie, I have followed my typical approach to the speedbumps of life: I remained super open and used this blog as a way to investigate fertility treatment as a whole, my fertility treatment specifically, and, of course, my feelings relating to it all.
I have had a chronic illness for so long, and am personally just of such a personality, that talking about my fertility in an open forum wasn’t that much of a stretch. I had confidence that my friends would support me and want the best for Alex and me. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky to have that confidence, even in the people immediately around them. So, they clam up.
Or, if they’re lucky, infertility is something that they never have to grapple with. They drop their birth control method and are pregnant naturally within months or even weeks. They don’t learn how prevalent infertility is, not just in the larger world but with their everyday acquaintances and friends.
As a result, there is a dearth of information on even the very basic fertility information. I, myself, had no clue that 1 in 8 American families struggle with infertility, and that infertility is considered trying to get pregnant without success for 12 months if under 35 or 6 months for those 35+.
Did you know that the majority of couples under the age of 35 will be pregnant within 6 to 9 months of beginning to try to conceive?
So it should be easy to get pregnant, right?
For some, it is easy. But for those 1 in 8 couples… they feel like they are stuck outside in a Polar Vortex.
CCRM is dedicated to helping those couples get pregnant. They are committed to the advancement of research and development to fight infertility—and to ultimately succeed, even with the most complex cases. CCRM is the industry’s leading pioneer in fertility science, research, and advancement (via methods such as IVF, fertility assessment, fertility preservation, genetic testing, third party reproduction, and egg donation). To encourage people to continue the dialogue on this important topic, this month CCRM kicked off its #LetsTalkFertility event series encouraging us to take the conversation forward and break down those social taboos associated with infertility.
But why IS fertility/infertility so difficult to discuss?
How do you begin to talk about your struggles to get pregnant when your friends are announcing that they are getting pregnant easily and naturally? You don’t want to rain on their parade. Furthermore, why aren’t YOU getting pregnant? Shouldn’t this be easy? Is there something wrong with you?
As you watch the months go by, as the ovulation and pregnancy tests build up along with the stress, perhaps even leading to tension in your marriage/partnership, you start to lose hope. Meanwhile, you are keeping these feelings to yourself.
What difference would it make to you if you knew that you were, actually, one of many? That nearly 13% of couples struggle with infertility? That there are ways of assessing your fertility and your partner’s fertility, that there are next steps that can be taken to help your chances of getting pregnant, and that your dream of starting a family doesn’t have to vanish into thin air.
For myself, knowing that in a seemingly hopeless situation (I do not produce hormones on a level that can even result in a period, and, no, “eating a sandwich” will not help), that there was hope for me to carry my own child via my own eggs or egg donor, meant so much.
When we started going through treatment, being open and discussing what we were going through was therapeutic for us as we got support from our friends and also were taken into confidence by friends who were also trying to conceive. I referred friends to therapy, to doctors, and spent time talking in person, on the phone, and via messaging to many women and family members asking about or commiserating with our situation.
There are so. many. of us out there. And yet, you would never know.
CCRM #LetsTalkFertility Brunch
This is just the beginning of the conversation. When CCRM brought myself and several other amazing ladies together for an intimate brunch led by CCRM’s own Dr. Laxmi Kondapalli, the idea was for get together to be informational and a resource for fertility discussion: new therapies, fertility science, statistics, family planning, surrogacy, and more.
The conversation that we experienced took another direction, however. What we experienced was raw, open, nonjudgmental. We learned from each other, we taught each other, and we exchanged stories on both sides. Stories of times that we were on the wrong end of a careless comment (honestly, both ends in that situation are wrong). Ladies opened up about not knowing what to say when a friend admitted to struggling with her infertility or receiving terrible news during their own trying-to-conceive journeys.
Of course, the hours that we spent together were incredibly educational for those who have had no exposure to questions on fertility or family planning. But the brunch was also incredibly touching and educational for those of us who are/have been in the throes of infertility treatment. We were reminded that many people have no clue about infertility treatments such as the IVF process.
We were all reminded that we need to continue to do our part to share the word that fertility is fragile (so freeze your eggs if you are nearing 35 and not in a place where you want to start your family yet!), that infertility is NOT something to be ashamed of (would you be ashamed of cancer?), and that there is hope. But we must continue the conversation, or, in many cases, simply start the dialogue, period.
I am thankful to CCRM for this reminder, for continuing to educate, and for treating so many of my friends and making their dreams come true via award winning physicians, a variety of fertility services, innovative technology, and cutting-edge labs located across the country.
What are some questions that you have about your fertility?